This vocal gospel group, consisting of Archie Brownlee (d. 1960), Joseph Ford, Lawrence Abrams (d. 1982) and Lloyd Woodard, was formed in 1936 by blind students of the Piney Woods School, Jackson, Mississippi. They began singing together in their school grounds and called themselves the Cotton Blossom Singers. By the mid-40s the group had moved to New Orleans and had added Melvin Henderson as their second lead. He was in turn replaced by (the sighted) Percell Perkins, whereupon the band became the Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi. Ford left the group in 1948 and was replaced by J.T. Clinkscales (also blind). The group moved to Houston, Texas, in the 50s and signed to Peacock Records. Our Father was their biggest hit, and became a gospel classic. It also reached number 10 in the R&B chart. Dozens of 45s and at least five albums emerged on Peacock during the 60s as the group toured constantly. Perkins left in order to devote himself to the ministry and became Reverend Perkins. His replacements included Reverend Sammy Lewis, Reverend George Warren and Tiny Powell (Vance Powell, 17 May 1922, Warren, Arkansas, USA, d. 5 February 1984, Oakland, California, USA). Brownlee died in New Orleans in 1960 and Roscoe Robinson took over as lead, and Willmer Little Ax Broadnax joined as second lead. Woodard died in the mid-70s and Lawrence Abrams in 1982, but the Five Blind Boys continued to tour with new members. Original lead Brownlee is one of the pivotal influences in the development of black soul music in the 50s and 60s, with both Ray Charles and James Brown taking their cue from his strident vocal performances.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.